From Translation to Life
“Prayer is the key to Bible translation,” says Jacob George, an Indian national and Bible translator on the team that completed the Konda New Testament for the Konda Doras, a people group estimated to number 20,000. Konda is spoken in the region of Andhra Pradesh.
Jacob and his wife Susan believe that the greatest need in mission is prayer – to ask the Lord to raise up and send labourers to the mission field. He believes in asking for prayer but not money, because many give when asked but end their responsibility in missions there. Jacob asks, “Can you commit to pray? And if God is asking you to do something, then you do it. Because God is the one who will take care of everything else!”
And the Georges should know. They have worked as Bible translators and then as consultants in India for more than 20 years, and have experienced God’s faithfulness in supporting all the projects and their personal needs. India is their homeland, and the mission field closest to their heart. India is home to more than 1 billion people, with 438 living languages.
Eager participants at the Bible conference
Looking back, Jacob and Susan are grateful for what God has been doing since the Konda Dora New Testament was dedicated in 2006. Wycliffe India has started 11 new language projects since 2006 and currently has members working on 16 language projects. The organisation also heads efforts among Christian agencies within India that train nationals for translation work, so that the massive task of reaching 150 remaining language communities in India can be shouldered by more than one mission agency. This task needs to be a concerted effort by different partners, striving together to fulfil the vision of seeing mother tongue Bibles become a reality.
At the 2006 dedication of the Konda Dora New Testament, 2000 copies were made available. All the copies were snapped up. Since then, the Georges have spent their time developing the Konda leaders so that they can teach their own people. At the moment, they are training eight leaders and in doing so, discipling whole communities through these trained leaders who work in different villages.
When they first started, very few of them could read. They learnt to read, and Scripture was what they started reading. The Georges would visit them every month, and spend at least two days teaching. The leaders would take what was taught to them back to the villages to teach others. Jacob says, “Even though the New Testament was in their own language, they did not understand, because they never had the educational background or ability to grasp the stories.”
Susan added, “Reading is not something that they are used to. That’s not the way they usually get information.” She started teaching the wives of the eight leaders, focusing on the Christian disciplines like prayer. In doing so, the women learned to pray and take the lead in singing and dancing. Even though the women do not lead at the pulpit they do have a major role in the believing community. Their influence in the family is also significant. Moreover, the structure of this society is highly individualistic so the wife can decide whether or not to follow the husband, thus in such a situation, it is important that the women themselves understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
The Konda show their dependence on God through their prayers
Prayer features prominently among the people. As Jacob puts it, “If you go to a place to speak, everybody wants to be prayed over.” The people have seen many answers to their prayers as they put their faith in the great God who has power to answer any request. In the simplicity of their faith, they ask for the return of lost cattle and healing of sicknesses. And they have seen God answer their prayers in His grace!
Bible translation is just the first step to getting people into the Word of God. Ultimately, for life transformation to take place, there needs to be studying of the Word, following the lives of godly examples and allowing God to change our hearts.
Four years on, it is evident that the Konda Dora New Testament is bearing fruit. It is more than a product of hard translation work- it is being used to translate the Word into life.
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